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How to apply for EP at the European Patent Office?

To obtain a European Patent (EP) an application is made to the European Patent Office, though filing is usually via the national patent office. An application for a EP must contain:

The name and address of the applicant(s)
- A request for a European Patent
- A description of the invention preferably with drawings
- One or more claims to the invention, defining the scope of the protection that you are seeking
- A abstract giving a brief summary of the invention
- A request for a search

At the time of filing the application you need to choose the member countries in which you want patent protection. Usually all countries will be chosen, but this list will then be narrowed when you choose which countries to pay fees for in approximately 12 months' time. It is not possible to add to your list of chosen countries during the application procedure, but it is possible to abandon one or more countries.

A fee must also be paid to the European Patent Office at the time of filing the application.

On receipt, the application is given a filing date and a number, and the European Patent Office sends you a receipt.

Summary of the steps:
1) A first filing at one particular patent office, generally a national patent office, for securing a priority date. Thus, filing effectively "freezes" the state of the art, that is to say the number of publications and disclosures which can be used to challenge your right to a patent.
2) Foreign filings in different states, within a year of the priority date, to extended protection in different territories. The European patent route, may cover most European countries.
3) Prosecution of all the applications up to the grant of the first and foreign filings. This generally involves dialogue between the patent attorney and the patent office regarding the patentability of the invention.


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